Tag Archives: mating

Clusterduck

15 Mar

Our handsome new biology lecturer was annoyed. So was I. He was annoyed because every few seconds another latecomer would bang  noisily into the lecture theatre and interrupt his speech on physiology. I was annoyed because I was premenstrual.

“I would just like attention for future lectures,” he said, in his sultry Mexican accent. “I get quite distracted when the door is opening and closing all the time. So if you can’t be here before five minutes of when the lecture starts, I won’t allow you to come in.”

Seized with a random burst of indignation, I called out from my seat at the very back of the lecture theatre: “‘Scuse me! Quite a lot of people have to walk quite a long way across the campus to get here.”

I don’t know why I said that. I didn’t know where any of the students were coming from.

“Is that your case?” asked the handsome lecturer.

“No,” I admitted. I come from three miles away and always arrive early for my lectures. I didn’t let that fact dissuade me from continuing to speak for my fellow students, most of whom I wouldn’t recognise if I saw them in the street.

“I find it distracting as well,” I said, glaring hormonally at two more latecomers who were searching for seats,  “but our last lecturer would wait 5 to 10 minutes after the hour to start the lecture, so that everybody would have a chance to get here.”

In fact, our previous lecturer always arrived late and dishevelled, with no plan of what he was going to say to us, and only got away with it because he is blessed with the gift of the gab.

“Unfortunately, we have a lot of material to get through,” said the handsome lecturer unhappily. “But I may take your suggestion.”

The following day, on my way into the Biosciences building, a duck sprang out of the shrubbery and almost collided with my head. Turning in surprise, I saw four more angry mallards wrestling among the foliage. It appears that I am not the only one being swayed by hormones lately.

The males, with their sunshine-yellow beaks, were pecking and shoving each other out of the way in a scramble to be the first to mate with the brown female trapped beneath them. Despite their fancy plumage, drakes are not the greatest proponents of courtship. They were so intent on their struggle that they completely ignored me when I walked up to them. I contemplated rescuing the female, but decided this would only prolong the inevitable for her: the drakes would chase her until she sank down exhausted in some other patch of greenery, or worse, in the water, where the pressure of their bodies might drown her. Here, she looked unhappy but not in physical danger. So instead, I observed and took some photos.

This caused me to lose track of time, and I arrived late for my lecture. I saw with some horror that the lecturer was standing at the back of the theatre, apparently waiting for me.

“Hello,” he said with a smile. “I’m taking your advice.”

He delivered the lecture several minutes late, and finished with minutes to spare. There were no interruptions.

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Sexual Shenanigans and Hideous Growths

22 Dec

Broccles’s unrequited love for the cats recently reached a new level of fervour. To demonstrate his enthusiasm for their company, he began urinating at them in a way that seemed to say, “you’re my wife now”. As this was occurring while the three of them climbed around on the furniture, it did not do a lot of good for the upholstery.

The cats responded by encouraging him. Pochi started rolling around on the floor in front of him, purring seductively, then slinking away before he had a chance to mount her. Monkey took to sitting just above him and batting him in the face with her very fluffy tail. The scent of her tail drives him wild with passion. As nobody has told him that rabbits can’t climb, he then started following the cats wherever they went. Despite their flirtations, they were completely horrified if he caught them.

“Maybe we should get him neutered,” I said, as I removed the chair cover to be laundered yet again. I consulted the vet about it when I took him in for his vaccinations. She agreed that neutering would have a good chance of stopping this behaviour. Below is a video of them in action, though really it needs a Seventies funk track. Poor Pochi was a little traumatised, but it didn’t stop her from teasing Broccles later. For email subscribers, the link is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wh7aWLlnv24

Then everything changed. It happened after we brought the guinea pigs indoors for the winter. One guinea pig, Colin, is comfortable with wandering freely around the house, while the others prefer to patrol the borders of their tower-block apartments and rumble at each other. With the others all safely behind bars, Colin developed the notion that he was King of the House. He demonstrated his dominance by mounting. The cats are too big and fast to be mounted by a guinea pig, but Broccles is blind in one eye and never sees him coming – particularly as Colin always goes for the front end. Broccles’s bad behaviour towards the cats stopped dead.

Stroking Broccles one afternoon, I was horrified to discover some kind of hideous growth on the side of his face. Some frantic googling later, I realised it was “boar glue”. This is guinea pig semen, called boar glue because it sets as hard as superglue and is nigh-on impossible to remove from fur. I did my best to remove it. First I tried rabbit shampoo and warm water. Broccles was deeply unhappy about this: he got soaking wet ears and shampoo in his eye, and ran away with a bubbly head before I could rinse him. The boar glue had not shifted.

“The phrase insult to injury springs to mind”, said Bunty.

Colin and Broccles in simpler times.

Once Broccles was allowing me near him again, I tried scissors and a comb. I broke the teeth of the comb trying to slide it behind the glue to guide the scissor blades. The scissors themselves scraped against the glue but made no dent in it.

A second and third hideous growth appeared on Broccles’s face over the next couple of days. I caught one before it had set, and was able to chip it out of his fur in little pieces over the course of an hour.  Monkey helped by joining in with what she thought was an unfair allocation of petting, standing over Broccles and getting right in my face.

I tried a new tack. At feeding time, I began feeding Broccles before any of the guinea pigs. I hoped this might alter Colin’s perception of the household dynamic. I don’t know for sure if it has worked, but for the past three days there have been no new boar glue incidents. What’s more, Broccles’s facial growths have been gradually disintegrating as he and Colin groom and scrape at them with teeth and hind claws. Broccles has begun to look at the cats with a twinkle in his rabbity eye…